Mind-Blowing History of the Garage Door and Electric Door Opener that Everyone Should Know

historyYou see them every day, before you leave the house and when you come home after work or after school. It keeps your car inside the garage which conveniently rolls up and down without you having to manually do it. This device is what you call garage door and garage door openers.

Garage doors didn’t always have openers that can remotely be opened or closed without getting out of your cars. But as always, the saying that “necessity is the mother of invention” is so true. Car owners then only have garages with doors that open sideways or one that looked like barn doors, sometimes just open spaces or just leave them parked in the driveways. This opened the idea for C.G. Johnson of Hartford City, Indiana to invent the garage door that could be lifted upward which folds parallel to the garage ceiling.

This has become the thing for most car owners and almost everyone started installing overhead garage doors. Then another concern came up. Car owners wanted to have garage doors that can be lifted with ease. So, five years later, in 1926, Johnson invented the electric garage door openers.

And it gave birth to the Overhead Door Corporation, the most sought after manufacturer of electric garage doors. But his invention did not gain popularity until another company named, Era Meter of Chicago offered car owners the electric garage door that can be opened with the use of a keypad at the end of the driveway or through a switch button installed inside the garage.

Soon another manufacturer came in – The Wayne-Dalton manufacturing, making a more sophisticated version of the overhead garage doors and garage door openers which quickly became the top choice of car owners. Its history started when Emanuel Mullet purchased the company from Ervin Hostetler in 1954.

In 1956, after Mullet acquired the company it moved manufacturing to Mt. Hope in Ohio which has the largest Amish community in the world. Their production line grew and they started hiring Amish workers from the community which turned out to be perfectionist craftsmen, they created high-quality garage doors. With superior quality products, they quickly became the leader in garage door innovation.

As the years passed and the changes in people’s lifestyle so did the ideas of garages changed. Slowly the garages have been moved closer to their houses and some even became a part of their homes. They started making it an extension of the house which stores the car. This was due to the decreasing availability of space.

Architectural designs of modern day garages took place and so were the designs of garage doors and garage door openers evolved; it became more stylish and efficient. And technology came up with another feature making the garage door opener that would let drivers stay inside the car while opening the garage door without getting wet in the rain or shivering in the snow, thus the creation of the remote controlled garage door openers.

garage designs

The earlier version of the remote controlled garage door openers were made of a simple transmitter and receiver that controlled the opening and the closing mechanism. The remote which serves as the transmitter would send a signal on a designated frequency while the receiver which controls the mechanism listens to the signal that allow it to open or close as commanded.

An American named Richard Goldstein who was fascinated with radio waves, developed the first wireless transistorized remote control for garage door openers. His invention using the transmitter and receiver mechanism through a specific frequency can be traced back to Second World War where it was used to detonate bombs in the battlefield.
This seemed novel technology became widely available and popular to homeowners all over the United States in the middle of the 1950’s when he started making and selling it together with his business partner Perma Power Incorporated.

The technology however had a flaw, when the owner opens his garage door; he also opens the neighbor’s garage door or the garage door across the street that picks up the signal from the transmitter. It also interferes with receivers around the area. This became a problem and they tried looking for a solution for the shared frequency issue.

The solution was to create a multi-code system that would require owners to preset a code by switching 8 to 12 DIP or dual in-line package. A switching system that is designed to be used on a printed circuit together with other electronic components which can be customized for an electronic device to behave at a specific situation. Another advantage in using the DIP codes for the remote was its capability to be changed without losing any parts or any of its functions.

However, criminals found its way to defeat the security system of the remote. They used scanners and other code grabbers in breaching the garage doors. This has become a problem and burglary, intrusion and thievery by accessing the garage doors increased. Slowly, the popularity of the remote-controlled garage doors declined especially in communities where security was an issue.

Problems with the garage doors and openers did not only end with security issues, not far in history they became killers and hazards, being the largest moving object in the home. Between 1974 and 1995, it was a source of danger and has caused fatal injuries even death to 85 children during this period.

With this report of injuries and death, the U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission in 1993 passed a law requiring manufacturers of garage doors to equip it with sensors – the photoelectric sensors and pressure-sensitive sensors or the secondary safety reversing system.

The photoelectric sensor serves as electric eye which is placed 6 inches from the ground. The pressure-sensitive sensor was placed at the bottom of the door. Once these sensors detected something under the garage door, it will reverse the mechanism and fully opens it automatically.

Despite the seemed perfect idea of installing these sensors, after rigid tests many of them didn’t work as expected. One test conducted on 50 openers, only 40% of those doors tested reversed which exerted a pressure of 130 pounds. The pressure could still break a leg or an arm of a child.

4 thoughts on “Mind-Blowing History of the Garage Door and Electric Door Opener that Everyone Should Know

  1. It’s so crazy to see how far garage technology has come over the last several decades. Even just 20 years ago, all my parents had were the old school push garages. It makes me wonder how garage doors will change in the up coming years.

  2. I have never heard a complete history of the garage door before. I have noticed the difference between the locations of garages depending on the age of the home but never knew why. Thanks for sharing!

  3. It is crazy how far garage doors have come over the years. Even the garage door remotes are different than before. Some are even accessible on an app which would be really nice. It would be one less thing you need to worry about. I like that the remotes can be stored in the car. That makes everything easier since you will need that to get in the garage.

  4. I think we get so used to seeing certain things, like electric garage doors, that we forget that people once lived without them! I had no idea that electric garage doors were only invented in 1926. They definitely make my life a LOT more convenient. I’m so glad someone came up with such a brilliant idea.

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